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Mediated Moms

Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth

Heather L. Hundley and Sara E. Hayden

Images of «good mothers» saturate the media, yet so too do images of mothers who do not fit this mold. Numerous scholars have addressed «bad mothers» in the media, arguing that these images are a necessary counterpoint that serves to buttress the «good mother» myth. While mediated images of women who fail to enact good motherhood may promote good mothering as an ideal, the essays in Mediated Moms: Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth, suggest that this is not all that is occurring in contemporary portrayals of maternity. The authors in this volume explore how images of mothers have expanded beyond the good/bad dichotomy, simultaneously and sometimes paradoxically serving to reinforce, fracture, and/or transcend the ideology of good motherhood.
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1. Introduction: Challenging the Motherhood Myth

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By SARA E. HAYDEN & HEATHER L. HUNDLEY

You’ll see them every May. Whether you’re surfing the net, reading your local newspaper, or flipping through a magazine, as Mother’s Day approaches you’ll find this year’s lists of the best and worst moms in the media. Yearly updates aside, the characteristics pundits laud or lament are remarkably consistent, and so too are some of the characters who are celebrated or deplored. “Best” mediated moms are fun (Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy, 1951–1960), cheerful (Carol Brady, The Brady Bunch, 1969–1974; June Cleaver, Leave it to Beaver, 1957–1963), and protective (Sarah Conner, the Terminator franchise, 1984, 1991, 2003, 2009, 2015; Ellen Ripley, Aliens, 1986). They are selfless and loving (M’Lynn Eatonton, Steel Magnolias, 1989; Clair Huxtable, The Cosby Show, 1984–1992). They remain upbeat and supportive in the face of moody teenagers and grumpy or bumbling spouses (Jean Weir, Freaks and Geeks, 1999–2000; Kitty Foreman, That 70’s Show, 1998–2006; Jill Taylor, Home Improvement, 1991–1999). They offer their maternal insights and love to children who are not their own (Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights, 2006–2011; Leigh Anne Tuohy, The Blind Side, 2009), and some are even cool enough to be their kids’ best friends (Lorelai Gilmore, The Gilmore Girls, 2000–2007).

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